Great Expectations is a passionate coming of age tale about a working class orphan boy named Pip. He is a boy that desires nothing more than to live out his ‘great expectations’ and transit from rags to riches into a wealthy gentleman. After meeting the tragic Miss Havisham who, since she was jilted at the alter, remains clad in her dusty, withering wedding dress, Pip is provided with a great sum of wealth from a mysterious benefactor. In an attempt to make himself an appropriate suitor for Estella, (Miss Havisham’s ward who Pip has fallen irrevocably in love with), Pip exploits the opportunity without a second thought. The tale transforms into an intelligent examination of class divide and questions the power of money in changing our fate.
Far from a typical Dickensian tale of a gentle orphan boy who finds his happy ever after, Great Expectations brings to light the darker side of human emotion and explores themes of betrayal, treachery, grief, sorrow, and loss. In a beautiful adaptation of an emotionally-charged classic novel, Mike Newell’s film adaptation lavishes the story in rich royal blues and golds, enchanting the majestic scenery with a melodic soundtrack composed by the brilliant Richard Hartley (The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), Alice In Wonderland (1999)). This tale of passion is brought to life onscreen through Newell’s practised direction of actors and aesthetics and is undoubtedly his tour de force.
Great Expectations closed the BFI London Film Festival last October (2012) and was undeniably, one of the best British films from that year. The film stars an array of renowned British actors including Ralph Fiennes as the murderous convict Magwitch, Robbie Coltrane as the pragmatic lawyer Mr Jaggers, and Helena Bonham Carter as the ghostly Miss Havisham. Rising star Holliday Grainger is truly mesmerising in the film as Miss Havisham’s cold-hearted ward Estella, who has been taught by her guardian to manipulate the male sex into falling for her and, believing that she cannot love, rejects Pip’s advancing affections. Finally, protagonist Pip is portrayed by Jeremy Irvine who, despite having only a small filmography so far, appears onscreen to have the level of experience of his co-stars. His performance can only be rivalled by that of Ethan Hawke in the 1998 modern adaptation of the original story who likewise, was fantastic. Other brilliant actors to look out for in the film include Jessie Cave, Sally Hawkins, David Walliams, Ralph Ineson, Jason Flemyng, and Ewen Bremner.
The DVD features are just over 20 minutes long, and include a look at the story of Great Expectations in which audiences are offered an insight into the emotion behind the original novel and its transition onto the screen. The cast and crew are also interviewed throughout this featurette as they comment on their roles within the film. A glimpse into the characters and the actors’ portrayals of them are focused on in the second featurette ‘The Characters of Great Expectations‘, similarly filled with interviews from the cast and crew. There is also a selection of around 10 minutes worth of deleted and extended scenes, allowing a broader understanding of the story. Lastly, there is a photo gallery exhibiting a selection of the most
picturesque shots of the film.
Great Expectations is a classic Dickens novel that has been read and reread throughout the world for the past 150 years. Newell’s conscientious adaptation remains fiercely loyal to the original story, so that fans of the Dickens tale will not be disappointed. Boasting some of the most refined British actors of the past 50 years, and unmistakably some of the most captivating images in a costume drama, this is without a doubt a DVD that is worth spending money on.
The Great Expectations (region 2) dvd is out and available to buy now.